SLSA After Biopolitics Abstract: How We Look at Species

The King

Having done some time in the history of rhetoric, I have a double vision of the term “species.” In common parlance it means something like an essential difference; at other moments it meant something like the opposite—appearance, or form—to look at. This is similar to the paradox of substance, as intrinsic (the old matter) and peripheral (a pedestal).  I don’t mean to juxtapose these two meanings of “species” as an OED-fetishist, but to take my inspiration for reflecting on species from the idea of “looking at,” and to consider if we might consider how we might appear to other species.

The human is a set that defines itself, plays itself, through collective and diverse acts of self-definition. Part of that play is a theory of human mind, inextricably bound up with language; our mind (they say) is categorically different. But this awareness of difference comes about through observing other species. How we look at other species is a central act.  We are a species that regards other species and tends to conclude that it is exceptional.

This reminds me of Levi Bryant’s remarkable diagrams in The Democracy of Objects (20 – 22). Here we are objects regarding ourselves as subjects regarding objects. To me the names of the categories aren’t as significant as our acts of seeing ourselves as categorically different, though, given “subjectivity,” being seeing objects seems a much needed corrective.

If other species have a “theory of mind” based on their experience of themselves, as they look at others, and if those theories of mind overlap with our theory of mind, could we keep drawing Venn diagrams until we arrived at a huge ring species of consciousness? Might we then come round to a new notion of species as appearance or apparent difference? And could we imagine inquiring how other species regard us?

Image source: The KING, the MICE and the CHEESE

“Theory of mind” credit to Dorothy L. Cheney and Robert M. Seyfarth, Baboon Metaphysics: the Evolution of a Social Mind (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).

See another oblique Environmental Critique references to their thesis here.

And more about Object Oriented Ontology here.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Affect and Ecology, Animals, brain science, ecologies, Environmental Ethics, Humanities and Ecology

One response to “SLSA After Biopolitics Abstract: How We Look at Species

  1. cskolnik

    Noosphere? I have *not* read Dominic Pettman’s *Human Error,* though I did suggest to Randy Honold that the members of our SLSA round table were already communicating in our dreams. More likely I had a conversation with or heard a talk by someone who had read Pettman, though I don’t remember the occasion or the source.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s